Former Bok teammate Jannie du Plessis has fondly recalled how Beast Mtawarira played an ‘instrumental role’ in the Boks’ win over England in last year’s World Cup final, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with SARugbymag.co.za, Du Plessis reflected on the Boks’ triumphant journey in Japan, with the former 70-Test cap front rower having been based in France with Montpellier at the time.
The final also proved to be the last match in a 117-Test career for Mtawarira, with the destructive prop playing a key role in dismantling the England scrum in the first half as the Boks won a series of penalties at this set piece.
Du Plessis, who played as many as 39 Tests alongside Mtawarira in the front row, said it was a joy to behold the performance of his close friend and former teammate on the grand stage in Yokohama.
‘Beast is an enigma, playing with him for quite a number of years, you just knew when he was ready. By that I mean some games are just different or more important … He would come into the change room with big earphones on, but then he would start making these noises and Bismarck used to joke that if he heard Beast grunt … then you knew. Bismarck would nudge me with his elbow and say, “This man is ready”.
‘He would have that look in his eyes – and I’m getting goosebumps just telling this story – and then you knew he’d give absolutely everything. I saw that look when he ran out for the World Cup final, and I knew he was mentally ready for that game and would contribute. You could see it from the first point of contact, and he was just instrumental in us beating England.’
Mtawarira has since retired from international rugby, and Du Plessis said the manner in which he finished his career was testimony to his immense work ethic throughout his playing days.
‘In the end, we beat England comfortably, and that’s credit to the Springbok team. I was so happy, but also just moerse proud of the way Beast played. He was my Man of the Match.’
Photo: Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images